When the COVID-19 pandemic forced many college students to pause or reconsider directions, Fernando “Nando” Borges-Chavez, BS’22, MSA’22, took the opportunity to take his business education and soccer career even further. The extra year of college sports eligibility gave Nando an additional season on the IUPUI soccer team. And, having fallen in love with the study of accounting, he decided to add one more year to his undergraduate degree to earn a Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) degree.
“Enrolling in the MSA program can be such a life-changing moment. Through the MSA Program, you realize different aspects of accounting that you might not have realized throughout your undergraduate studies,” Nando said. “I would never have thought I’d enjoy tax as much as I do. I took four more tax courses and realized how interesting it is. It was cool to have so many choices available to become a more well-rounded individual. It really opened doors up for me.”
Through the MSA, Nando says he elevated his accounting skills. The advanced courses in the master’s program expanded Nando’s knowledge of accounting while he earned 150 credit hours to sit for the CPA exam.
“Being able to start those MSA courses at an undergraduate rate expands your world of possibilities because you don’t have that financial impact or stress on your shoulders if you had to return to school years later,” Nando said. “It was extremely convenient to be able to continue my path seamlessly.”
That path has led Nando to a full-time job right after graduation. The opportunity came from an internship he’s had with Houston-based oil and natural gas firm, Williams Companies, for the past three summers. He’d been visiting friends in Texas several years ago when he started looking for internships. He says the Kelley School’s reputation helped position him as a competitive candidate.
“Williams usually hires interns from southern states with experience in the oil industry, but one of their employees was a Kelley alum who told them that I’d be one of the best candidates they’d see,” Nando said. “They sent me to Houston, interviewed me, and kept inviting me back. By the time I graduated with my MSA, they offered me a full-time position.”
Nando will be working in financial analytics and financial reporting at Williams. During the interview for the full-time role, the company was impressed that Nando had already begun his master’s degree in accounting.
“I told them I’d already started the MSA and gotten a head start on my master’s while still in my undergrad. I think that put me at the top of their list because they knew I was pursuing something more,” Nando said. “They even offered a higher salary because of my added experience.”
The additional year in college also gave Nando an extra year of Division 1 soccer. Between rigorous studies at the Kelley School and a demanding athletic schedule, Nando says earning two accounting degrees while playing soccer took determination, focus, and sacrifice. He studied on buses and late nights in hotel rooms. But he says the faculty and staff at Kelley helped make it possible.
“If you want to earn the MSA, you won’t do it alone. You have [Program Director] Susan Cauble, who will guide you every step of the way. I don’t have words to describe how helpful and supportive she is,” Nando said. “Plus, you’ll have professors who want you to succeed. I communicated with them about my soccer schedule, and they’d send me lectures ahead of time so I could watch them on the road. Everyone at Kelley helps you open doors that lead to successful careers.”
Nando says the MSA prepared him with advanced accounting skills he can apply directly to his career. The MSA is a graduate degree that goes beyond textbook lessons to provide practical problem-solving skills.
“The way Kelley professors teach the material helps you to break down real-world situations in a more detailed way. I think that that’s what’s so great about the MSA – they’re showing you how theory applies to real-life scenarios,” Nando said. “You instinctively know how to read between the lines and pick out what you need from available information.”
What’s so great about the MSA is they’re showing you how theory applies to real-life scenarios. You instinctively know how to read between the lines and pick out what you need from available information.”
Nando is currently studying to sit for the CPA exam. He feels confident about taking the test after his five years at Kelley.
“The MSA prepares you immensely for the CPA exam; not only because it helps you earn enough credit hours to sit for the CPA, but also because there’s nothing on the exam prep materials that I haven’t already seen,” Nando said.
As he relocates from his home in Kansas City to Texas, Nando is looking forward to putting to work five years of accounting studies as he steps into his career.
“An accounting degree opens up your world to all sorts of possibilities, which don’t even have to be limited to the field of accounting,” Nando said. “I wanted to have more professional options. That’s why I earned the MSA – I wanted to be the best candidate I can be, not only to represent the Kelley School of Business, but for also future employers.”